J.D. Martinez

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

J.D. Martinez says he wouldn't be here today without failures in Houston

John Tomase
October 12, 2018 - 2:31 pm

The lowest moment of J.D. Martinez's career may also have been the most important.

On March 22, 2014, the Astros released Martinez at the end of spring training. The once-promising prospect had bottomed out after hitting .250 with seven homers in 2013, and the Astros saw no room for him in a young outfield.

The Tigers signed him two years later and the rest is history. Martinez blossomed into an All-Star who signed a free-agent contract with the Red Sox this winter before delivering his best season as a pro, hitting .330 with 43 homers and a league-leading 130 RBIs.

Now that he has come full circle, with the Red Sox about to open the American League Championship Series against the Astros, he reflected on the significance of Houston cutting him loose five years ago.

"How much does it drive me? I think my failures in Houston are what made me who I am," Martinez said on Friday. "I think it's given me that drive, that drive to keep working, because you never know what can happen type deal.

"As far as it being Houston (now), no, really. I mean, I learned a lot from Houston. And you know what, it made me who I am and there's really no animosity there. In a sense they did me a favor by allowing me to leave and going to play on another team.

"And if it wasn't for that I probably wouldn't be here right now. Who knows where I would have been?"

Martinez rebuilt his approach from scratch after hitting .251 over parts of three seasons with the Astros. He surged with the Tigers and then Diamondbacks before signing a $110 million contract with the Red Sox early this spring training.

"What stands out to me? I think the growing pains, really," Martinez said. "I think I learned how to fail, if that's something. I think I went through all my failure there and I kind of learned and I grew. And I knew kind of what worked, what didn't work.

"And then I just -- after that, I thank God, gave me another opportunity and put me in a good situation with Detroit. And that's kind of where I continued to grow until where I am today."